If Barack Obama is the leader of the The Democratic Party, then the Democratic Party of the New Deal is dead.
Just a Bill Clinton’s “free trade” deals sent the American manufacturing base – and American jobs – to wage slave nations, and his media deregulation gave us the consolidated Corporate Media now making a mockery of its Constitutionally-protected role to inform the electorate, Barack Obama’s latest budget betrays traditional Democratic principles and proves his eagerness to AGAIN offer Republicans their Holy Grail – CUTS to Social Security and Medicare – programs Republicans have opposed since their inception.
One truly has to wonder if Republicans would have been able to do as much damage to these vital programs as Barack Obama stands ready to do? Not since Lyin’ Paul Ryan joined George W. Bush in his effort to privatize Social Security, has a politician been so bent on ensuring our most vulnerable citizens take in on the chin as some “bargaining chip” so the rich can continue paying their 15 percent rate on capital gains investment income – the lowest since the Great Depression.
After facing immediate backlash from normal people (non-Republicans/those tired of living in a Plutocracy), the Obama Administration released a statement, which read in part,
“The president has made clear that he is willing to compromise and do tough things to reduce the deficit, but only in the context of a package like this one that has balance and includes revenues from the wealthiest Americans and that is designed to promote economic growth.”
The statement betrays a staggering lack of understanding that even John Boehner and Paul Ryan recently publicly admitted – our real crisis is one of employment, not of the deficit. Numerous economists not under contract with the Heritage Foundation have tried to pound this truth into Obama’s head, yet he continuously plays right into the Republican faux-crisis about the deficit (a strategy known as “Two Santa Clause“) – and insist he’s doing the “tough things” by stripping the politically unconnected of vital programs. In truth, the “tough things” would be promoting policies that would actually bring our jobs home and end the employment crisis.
Calling it a “bitter disappointment,” Senator Bernie Sanders vowed to fight the President, saying, “What the president is proposing is going to hurt a lot of people.”
“During his first run for the White House, in 2008, Mr. Obama said he would not cut Social Security. I hope he remembers that promise and keeps it.
also hope he follows up on another suggestion that he made during that campaign and gets behind my legislation to raise the cap on income subject to the payroll tax, extending the life of Social Security for generations to come without the need to cut benefits or raise taxes on the middle class.”
You can sign Bernie’s petition here… but we need more than petitions to stop Washington’s destruction of the working class. We’re going to need to wake up our neighbors to the fact that they’re being played.
How Many Times Do We Have to Say This? The REAL “Deficit” is a JOBS Deficit
As the President started his second term, a USA TODAY/Pew Research Center Poll found that the majority of Americans thought cutting the budget deficit was our most urgent priority. The fact is, the Corporate Media has helped Republicans drive that meme when it could have just as easily educated the people that our deficit would be under control once the unemployment crisis is solved. But unemployment is only discussed in the Corporate Media in the context of how it will affect the political machinations of Republicans and Democrats, not as the fundamental sickness that must be addressed.
Sadly, the President abdicates the bully pulpit by aligning with the born-again deficit hawks, while the people continue to struggle under the lash of “bipartisan compromise.” What’s called for is a NEW, New Deal that increases Social Security, extends Medicare, ends “free trade” agreements like NAFTA, regulates banking, increases the top marginal tax rates and strengthens Unions… you know… restores all the New Deal policies that, when whittled away, crashed the economy for the second time in 100 years.
I Repeat. Solve the Jobs Deficit and Trumped-Up Deficit “Crisis,” Solved
“…the primary driver of deficits is a lack of growth. …The deficit has been driven by unemployment, which means … Closing the deficit is painless. It’s not about belt-tightening, it’s about putting more people to work, which is something that everyone loves.” Read the rest of the article (with charts and graphs) here.
The fact is, corporate s are at record highs for the Fortune 500 and for the economy as a whole. Yet, these record profits are not translating to a booming job market, and they’re certainly not narrowing income inequality or putting an end to poverty. Instead, one out of four profitable corporations are paying ZERO federal taxes and most are hiding the profits (made off our backs) in tax shelters in the Cayman Islands.
But, we have a history in America of the government being the employer of last resort.
As Marshall Auerback of the Roosevelt Institute wrote in 2009,
“…though we are constantly being told that the worst recession since the Great Depression has officially ended. Yet instead of trying to revive the productive economy, most of the Obama Administration’s recovery efforts still remain focused on cardio-shock treatment for Wall Street. The President still seems curiously hamstrung by his Herbert Hoover-like devotion to fiscal rectitude: he wants to spend but not add “one dime to the deficit,” as he announced at his Congressional address on health care in September. He does this even though deficits are a natural consequence of slowing economic growth, falling tax revenues and higher social welfare payments.
To all of the “Chicken Littles” (including the president), who fret about “excessive” government spending, we would simply point out that it is far better to deploy government spending in a way that reduces unemployment instead of settling for having it rise as a consequence of this spending.
We therefore suggest a new approach: Government as Employer of Last Resort (ELR). The U.S. Government can proceed directly to zero unemployment by hiring all of the labor that cannot find private sector employment. Furthermore, by fixing the wage paid under this ELR program at a level that does not disrupt existing labor markets, i.e., a wage level close to the existing minimum wage, substantive price stability can be expected. A sizable benefits package should be provided, including vacation and sick leave, contributions to Social Security and, most importantly, health care benefits, providing scope for a bottom-up reform of the current patchwork health care system.
Government as ELR would not be introducing another element of intrusive bureaucracy into our economy, but simply better utilizing the existing stock of unemployed, who are now dependent on the public purse — especially the chronically long-term unemployed. The current system we have relies on unemployed labor and excess capacity to try to dampen wage and price increases; however, it pays unemployed labor for not working and allows that labor to depreciate and develop behaviors that act as barriers to future private-sector employment. Social spending on the unemployed prevents aggregate demand from collapsing into a depression-like state, but little is done to enhance future growth and demand, which can be done via the ELR by providing the currently unemployed with jobs, greater education and higher skill levels.”
If the President wanted to do the REAL “tough” stuff, he could simply reach back into proud, Democratic, history and put people back to work in a Civilian Conservation Corps for the 21st Century. Instead, we’re subjected to Obama’s “compromises” to the same Republican ideas that got us into this mess to begin with.
Sadly, it’s time to face reality. With this “Grand Bargain/Grand Betrayal” once again on the table, it’s time to admit that Barack Obama was the wrong man for the job of Presidency at this critical time. Yes, we keep hearing that we’re in the worst recession since the Great Depression, yet rather than channel FDR, Obama continues to do his best Herbert Hoover and keep us stuck permanently in the New Gilded Age.
Whether those harming the working class have an “R” or a “D” after their names, it’s time to stand up and fight for the middle class life our grandparents assured us was once the American birthright.
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